Holiday Sugar Cookies

christmas sugar cookies main

It’s Tips for Tuesday!

This week’s tip:  Simplify your cookie decorating this holiday season with glaze!

When I have a lot of baking, I prefer simple cookie decorations.  I have said it before…water glaze is my favorite way to decorate sugar cookies.  It can be made in minutes with only 2 ingredients, and can be colored with food color and is great for attaching sprinkles and sugar.  It also works well to soften cookies that have been overcooked.  I don’t know about you, but sugar cookies can be tricky.  I have overcooked my fair share.  If you paint glaze on them, within a day or two they will begin to soften.  I have saved cookies on more than one occasion this way.  I am re-sharing my sugar cookie recipe from last year.  It is a semi-soft sugar cookie with a hint of lemon.  I hope your holiday planning is going well and you find this tip useful 🙂

Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies


  • 2 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. milk (2% milkfat or higher)
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon (around 1/3 tsp.)
  • oil for greasing baking sheets
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (plus more for adjusting thickness if using food color)
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • assorted colored sugar and sprinkles
  • green and brown food color
    Special Equipment
  • cookie cutters
  • parchment paper
  • food safe paint brush or pastry brush
  • Zest one lemon and set aside. Sift the flour and baking powder together and then add salt and whisk until combined.
  • Place the softened butter and sugar in the mixer and cream them together, by mixing on high (start on low until sugar is incorporated) until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Scrape the bowl as needed throughout this process. Add the egg and mix until incorporated, and repeat with the vanilla, lemon zest, and milk. While the mixer is on low, steadily add the flour mixture. Mix until the dough is formed.
  • Place the dough on a large sheet of parchment paper, and pat the dough down slightly. Place an equal-sized piece of parchment paper on top. With your roller, roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. The parchment paper on top makes the rolling easier and cuts down on mess. Once rolled, keep the dough covered and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. It is best to keep it flat (a baking sheet or pizza pan works well).
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and place the dough with the parchment paper underneath on your work surface. Cut out your shapes and place on a greased baking sheet and in the oven (you can put a little powdered sugar on the cutters if needed). Re-roll as needed (the dough gets a little easier to work with after the first re-roll).
  • Place in the oven and bake for 11 minutes. They are done when the bottom is very lightly golden and the tops are just beginning to get light gold around the edges. Place on cooling racks.
  • Decorations
  • Once the cookies have cooled, get out all of your colored sugar and sprinkles and place a sheet of wax or parchment paper over your work surface (this will help with clean-up). Make your glaze by mixing the water and powdered sugar together well. The glaze will be used to decorate, as well as, the ‘glue’ for the sprinkles and colored sugar. Use green food color for the Christmas trees and brown if you are decorating gingerbread men. If you are using food color, add a little powdered sugar, because the food coloring will thin it out. Use a food safe paint brush or pastry brush to paint the glaze on the cookies and then add sugar and sprinkles (you may need to gently shake off extra sugar). Let the glaze dry on the cookies for at least 30 minutes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for several days. Enjoy 🙂
  • Notes

    #1 You can make this dough ahead and keep in the fridge for a few days or even the freezer for at least a few weeks (thaw out ahead of time).

    #2 This is a great activity for children. They can paint on the glaze and decorate themselves. My little ones enjoy decorating cookies this way. This is also a great group activity for kids 🙂

    #3 These cookies make great gifts and are perfect for holiday parties!

    11 Responses to“Holiday Sugar Cookies”

    1. 12/15/2015 at 10:24 am #

      I love this so festive and lovely cookies!

        12/15/2015 at 10:25 am #

        Thank you Lynn 🙂

        • 12/15/2015 at 1:35 pm #

          What gorgeous cookies really lovely Antonia!

          12/15/2015 at 3:29 pm #

          Thank you so much!

        • 12/15/2015 at 3:39 pm #


    2. 12/15/2015 at 12:20 pm #

      If you can believe it, I just made sugar cookies this past weekend Antonia! Our recipes are very similar although mine does not have lemon zest and I imagine that gives a nice hint of flavor. Sugar cookies can be so fickle, I often overcook mine. That’s why I really like your idea for a water glaze. Although it’s fun to do fancy decorations sometimes, I always find myself pressed for time around the holidays and looking for the quickest way to get things done.

        12/15/2015 at 3:39 pm #

        Funny! You should try the lemon, it gives a nice subtle flavor. It’s good to hear there is someone else who has issues with overcooking sugar cookies 😉 The glaze works wonders. Happy Holidays!

    3. 12/15/2015 at 4:00 pm #

      They look so cute and very flavor recipe. Bookmarked!

        12/16/2015 at 10:24 am #

        Thanks Kushi! I hope you get a chance to try them 🙂

    4. 12/15/2015 at 6:39 pm #

      Perfect holiday cookies.. Looks yum can I have some

        12/16/2015 at 10:25 am #

        Thank you Vidya 🙂 I wish I could send you some!

    I would love to hear from you!

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